HC Deb 23 November 1972 vol 846 c1506
14. Mr. John Wells

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what action she intends taking on the Quirk Report on speech therapy.

Mrs. Thatcher

The committee's report was made jointly to my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Social Services, for Scotland, for Wales and myself. It touches on the interests of many authorities, organisations and professions, either as employers, users or colleagues of speech therapists. My right hon. Friends and I have therefore arranged for the interested bodies to be consulted immediately so that we can take their views into account in reaching decisions on the recommendations of the report.

Mr. Wells

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the profession faces a number of difficulties which must be remedied rapidly? Pay is inadequate, research facilities are inadequate and divided control of one minute profession between four Departments is absurd.

Mrs. Thatcher

Unification of speech therapy services under the proposed area health authorities is one of the recommendations of the Quirk Committee. I assure my hon. Friend that we shall be consulting on all the proposals made by that committee.

Mr. Ashley

Is the right hon. Lady aware that speech therapists are scarce, underpaid and grossly neglected by the Government? When does she propose to get a move on.

Mrs. Thatcher

I agree that speech thereapists are scarce. There are 800 speech therapists, and the committee recommended an increase in the number, and a broader-based training. These matters are being considered now.